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A fundraiser for Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club has tripled in value since the Friday Netflix release of “Concrete Cowboys,” a film loosely based on the North Philly equestrian organization.

After raising around $ 40,000 over the past nine months, the GoFundMe exceeded its target and as of Tuesday morning has nearly $ 150,000 in donations. It’s a major boost for the local nonprofit, which was mostly kept afloat in the pocket of founder Ellis Ferrell.

The money will be used to care for horses, stable building materials and a documentary film being produced with the Riding Club, members of Fletcher Street told Billy Penn last fall.

Located in Strawberry Mansion and a popular sanctuary for children, the Riding Club is facing displacement. The city-owned green space that he used for horse grazing and lessons is being developed into housing for low-income seniors, and the club is looking for a new permanent location. stay in progress. In June, he launched online fundraising to help.

Ellis Ferrell, Founder of the Fletcher Street Urban Riders Club
Kimberly Paynter / WHY

Over the course of various incarnations, Ferrell’s club has been featured in books, art shows, and documentaries across the world, but has remained a labor of love that has struggled to raise funds.

“I love Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club because I deal with kids,” Ferrell said. “And horses and children are my passion. Once they have learned to drive, they are there every day. “

This spring, he suddenly faced competition from an unlikely source. Ricky Staub, founder of Neighborhood Film Company, which produced “Concrete Cowboys,” co-founded a nonprofit in 2019 while the film was filming in North Philly. A few weeks ago, this new organization created its own GoFundMe, which has raised over $ 57,000 to reach a goal of $ 2 million to date.

Called the Philadelphia Urban Riding Academy, its website says it was created to preserve “the life, heritage and culture of the black urban cowboys of the city of Philadelphia.”

He is not affiliated with the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, which was concerned about the confusion dueling fundraisers could cause.

“Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club believes that the public will perceive that the funds raised will go to the club,” he said in a statement posted online, “and is concerned that this campaign may harm its fundraising efforts for his own permanent home. and siphon off potential funds from its independent initiatives.

“The club is hopeful that the filmmakers will erase the audience record and give credit to the iconic Fletcher Street Riding Club.”

As Idris Elba turned heads, plans came forward to build houses on the pasture shown in the film
Dr. Reed for Billy Penn

“Concrete Cowboys” is based on a book by author Greg Neri called “Ghetto Cowboy”. The ten-year-old young adult novel was inspired by Neri’s trip to the Fletcher Street stables and her interactions with the Ferrell Riding Club.

The club’s property and surrounding area served as the film’s primary filming location. A coming-of-age film. it stars “Stranger Things,” actor Caleb McLoughlin, Jharrel Jerome of “Moonlight” and “When They See Us,” and Hollywood star Idris Elba, who also produced it. Lee Daniels, originally from Philly, was another producer.

“Concrete Cowboys” debuted in September 2020 at the Toronto International Film Festival. Critical reception has been mixed, but it seems to have been more warmly received by the general public. It became the best movie on Netflix just days after its release and has an audience score of 80% on Rotten Tomatoes.

The film also featured actual urban cyclists from Philly, including Fletcher Street’s Jamil Prattis, who had a leading scripted role.

Ferrell’s organization isn’t the only active club in town. In southwest Philly two decades ago, an equestrian by the name of Malik Divers founded the Concrete Cowboys – unrelated to the movie. In 2019, he raised approximately $ 20,000 to help secure a permanent location near the Bartram garden.

There’s also the Chamounix Equestrian Center in Fairmount Park, which has fielded a nationally competitive polo team, and the Northwestern Stables in Chestnut Hill.



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